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Thursday, 15 May 1924

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon W A Watt (BALACLAVA, VICTORIA) - I have given further consideration to the amendment submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). In July of last year, during the currency of the present session, I was called upon to rule on a proposal of this kind, in connexion with a motion to give effect to a recommendation of the Public Works Committee, with regard to the construction of portion of the North-South Railway. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) then submitted an amendment, which, after due consideration, I was obliged to rule out of order. I have since consulted that ruling and the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act, and I feel that I have no option on this occasion but to adopt a similar course with respect to the present amendment. If honorable members will consult the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913, section 15, and they will realize that, in the absence of any standing order governing our procedure in these cases, that Act is the only guide we have to follow, they will see the course laid down. In the first place, the proposed work is to be referred to the Committee for report; secondly, there is the report to the House; and, in the third place, there is the action which the law requires the Minister to take on the report of the Committee. Then occur the following words in sub-section 6, which, I think, bind this House: -

After the receipt of the report of the Committee, the House of Representatives shall, by resolution, declare, either that it is expedient io carry out tlie proposed work, or that it is not expedient to carry it out :

Provided that the House of Representatives may, instead of declaring affirmatively or negatively as aforesaid, resolve that the report of the Committee shall, for reasons or purposes stated in the resolution, be remitted for their further consideration and report to the Committee.

Therefore, the Act, in the absence of precedent or a definite standing order on the matter, leaves three courses open to the House - to affirm the expediency of carrying out the proposed work; to declare that it is inexpedient to carry it out; or to refer it back to the Committee for further consideration and report. The amendment provides for the adoption of none of these courses, but seeks, by a proposition which it is hoped will find acceptance by the House, to put aside the proposal of the Minister, and to allow it to remain in abeyance until another eventuality occurs.

Mr E RILEY (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Can the Leader of the Opposition move that the matter be referred back to the Committee 1

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